Cloze can be useful as an assessment tool of the breadth and depth of understanding of both native and second language learners. It is also relatively easy to set up and to personalize for individuals at their own reading level, in that it embeds aspects on comprehension, but also enables the teacher to explore specific aspects of grammar understanding.
Cloze procedures are often set up by deleting every seventh word in a text, then asking the reader to supply linguistically plausible alternatives. It is not a requirement that the child should provide the exact word, although I have encountered teachers whose aspiration was exactly that. By doing that, the “test” becomes more limited. Having the child provide a number of plausible answers gives a greater insight.
The simplest way to set up a cloze text is to take the selected text and to delete, for example, the adjectives, especially if that has been a focus for the class, so that it also provides feedback on the child’s understanding of the teaching. As long as the alternative words will fit in the space and the child has a reason why it could do so, they get credit. The use and application of a range of reading skills is the aim. Spelling approaches can also be checked.
From Take Back the skies, by Lucy Saxton
Rain fell lazily from ………. clouds as Catherine Hunter sprinted through ……. streets, her ……. hair tied in a ……… braid and tucked beneath a …… cap. Her ……… coat and ………. trousers disguised her gender quite nicely. She was practically unrecognisable; only the people who knew her well would have been able to tell who she was. A ………….. smile tugged at her lips as she reached the …………. tree beside the ………… wall that surrounded the area in which she lived. It took barely any effort to swing herself up into its branches, the knots worn into footholds by …………. use. With ……………. ease, she scrambled up as high as she could manage, edging on to an …………… branch that just brushed the wall’s peak. From there it was a short jump over the wall, her thud upon landing muffled by the grass. Taking no longer than a second to regain her balance, she resumed running, diving into a gap at the base of a bush. The ……… panel behind it was open, as she’d left it, and she crawled through without a care for the mud on her clothes. Her father would never see them.
(It took only a few minutes to create a cloze text from a passage; perhaps quicker than a usual worksheet)
Children can benefit from a cloze procedure approach, as it embeds meaning making from the text and enables discussion of a range of approaches to reading. It embeds a level of comprehension and challenge, so requires some stickability. It might identify children whose reading approach is single word, so needing to develop a greater overview of the textual meaning. Discussion of word choice allows consideration of the breadth of personal vocabulary.
The cloze passage can also lead to an extended piece of writing, by simply asking, “What happens next?”
It can be used to determine subject specific knowledge, by leaving out the key words in the passage. Cloze procedure can provide an alternative form of testing, within a reading challenge.